It’s not all sunsets and cocktails

As promised in the last post, admittedly a while back, here is what happened after we treated Ventured to a good cleaning and some general TLC.  Once the crew was done cleaning our boat, we headed back to the anchorage where we belong.  While the docks can have a lot of socializing and become their own little community, we prefer the cost of the anchorage.

A couple days after re-anchoring, we did a provision run and returned to the boat with bags of groceries to stow away.  It really doesn’t work on the boat to just set the groceries on the counter and deal with them later, one asshole overzealous powerboat running through the anchorage can send the contents of the counter to the floor quite quickly.  As we were stowing groceries, Jenn felt some heat near the stairs down into the cabin that cover the engine.  About the same time I suddenly smelled a burning electrical smell.  After a quick check through several cabinets I pulled the engine cover off to witness several wires arching onto the engine block, setting the insulation on fire.  Luckily Jenn’s suggestion to turn off the batteries solved stopped the arching, and the small bursts of flame from the insulation also stopped.  Once things calmed down, I began checking the damage.  Five wires melted through, in a less then easily accessible spot.

This is not the way your wiring should look.

Luckily our fridge runs directly from the battery bank (a combination of laziness and convenience due to the installed location), we can hand pump water, there aren’t any anchor light nazis and we have a handheld VHF that covers the area we were anchored in.  So I had some time to work on this, which was fortunate cause it took a couple days.  I had to sort out all the wired, unwrap them from their shielding, splice in new wires to replace the melted pieces (and this is the temporary fix, I need rerun the wires) and take out the alternator to have it tested.

Once all the new wires were in, I set out with the alternator to find a testing location.  I stopped to say hi to Deep Playa and ended up looking at their Nigel Caulder book (an accidental omission to my cruising library) and reading how to do some of the tests myself.  I then spoke with my mechanical expert David, co-owner of Cheers Automotive in Spokane, and he felt the voltage from the alternator wouldn’t be sufficient to blow holes in the insulation.  I more likely culprit is the combination of age, friction, vibration and heat cycling, as the wires lay right on top of the engine.  After several days of keeping the batteries off while we weren’t on the boat, and watching the new wires while we were on the boat, my repairs seem to be working and  there has been no more arching, fires or melted insulation.

Fast forward to our resumed travels (yes, I’m jumping out of chronological order, I’ll come back to leaving La Cruz and visiting Yelapa) and becoming becalmed a few miles south of Cabo Corrientes around 3 am.  Jenn fired up the engine, and I poked my head in the engine compartment for a quick look and noticed fuel dripping off of a line.  Quite close to the location of the wiring fix, actually.  After looking things over I decided the leak was coming from a line that returns excess fuel delivered by the fuel pump to the fuel tank.  One end of the hose unscrewed easily with a wrench, but the other end took a wrench, vice grip and choice words.  Once it was off I found a spot where the protective cover and hose had chafed through, most likely unrelated to the wiring issue.  What I couldn’t find was a replacement hose or something to seal with.  As it was late, dark and we were both tired, we decided to wait till morning to fix it.  Our speed dropped from 3 knots to .1 knot as the wind died and we ended up essentially adrift, but far enough off shore and with no traffic in sight.

At least I found the problem.

Prepped for a fix.

When dawn arrived to tackled the search for a host sealant.  I got lucky and found the Rescue Tape I thought I had in the second place I looked.  I’ve never used it before, the the instructions were straightforward and half an hour later I had the hose back in place.  We fired up the engine and so far so good, although I’m continuing to monitor it.  I’m hoping it will hold to Manzillo, a couple stops down the coast where I think I can find a replacement hose.  So far I’m very impressed with rescue tape, but not my ability to remember where I put things.

Rescue tape to the, uh, rescue.

Rescue tape works wonders, when you can find it.

So Ventured is still shiny and clean on the outside, but having some internal bleeding I’ve stopped with my boat first aid skills, but need some surgery to fix for the long term.